Budgets and Spreadsheets and Savings – Oh my!
Remember how I suck at life and don’t have a job? Okay, okay. I don’t suck – it’s the laws of the land (ie: California) that suck, but it makes me feel like a pile sometimes. I know I’ll eventually figure out my work life, but in the meantime, we’re rockin’ a budget life!
I hate math. It was always my least favorite subject. (Sorry past teachers! It wasn’t you, it was just the subject you chose to teach!) Letters shouldn’t be involved in math. I like letters – writing is kind of my thing, but they do not belong in math.
That being said, here is something math-like I DO like – spreadsheets. I think it’s mostly because a spreadsheet is filled with organized information and I LOVE ORGANIZATION. I will make a spreadsheet for anything – apartment comparisons, address lists, Christmas gift ideas, names of your best friends’ grandparents, parents and siblings to help come up with the perfect baby name (even if she doesn’t choose to use any of them)…you name it, I’ll spreadsheet it!
In the last couple years, I’ve tried spreadsheeting a budget. Math – but I enjoy it! That does not mean I love having to live on a budget, but I do love putting in all the numbers and seeing how much we (should have) left at the end of the month. It’s even more exciting when you have a little EXTRA left because then you feel like a budgeting genius, or like you’ve won some amazing prize and adulthood will NOT take you down – until you remember you’re still actually poor. But, look how good it looks on this months spreadsheet!! #winning
Living the budget life makes you more aware of the little things you can do to save a penny or get a little back. I think this is instilled in me from my mom who got me into looking for pennies on the ground – even if I can’t pick them up when I’m by myself, I feel accomplished to spot them. Here are three of my favorite ways to save:
If you have a smartphone, you need to get the Wal Mart app. If you don’t have a smartphone, first and foremost – which rock have you been living under? Secondly, you can do this online at walmart.com as well, but the app is so much easier and less time-consuming. In the app (or online) go to Savings Catcher, and each receipt you get from Wal Mart, scan it. It’s as easy as taking a picture. It will take a day or two to process while it compares prices to other stores in your area and then it will notify you of the results. If a lower price was found, you will get the difference. Most of the time it’s a difference of pennies, but sometimes it can be higher. The money is saved on your account until you cash it in for a Wal Mart gift card. These pennies turned into a pretty decent amount for us (over $250 in two and half years), so I’d say it’s worth a try! Also, remember to try the grocery pick up service and get $10 off the first time – and then don’t forget to scan the receipt for your additional money back!
In order to actually SAVE money, I recommend only using this if you’re looking for something specific. Otherwise, you see all these amazing deals and spend money that you wouldn’t have had you not looked at Groupon. It’s a trap! But, an incredibly useful one if you have self-control! 🙂 Just visit groupon.com or get the app on your phone, enter your location and what you’re looking for. They have EVERYTHING – custom photo products, bedding, games, art, jewelry, kitchen supplies, purses, restaurants, vacation deals, bowling, skydiving – Guys, I literally mean everything! Try it by clicking here.
Shopping online is amazing for me, especially at Christmas time! Since I can’t always find a ride, it’s convenient to just hop online and check out my favorite stores via their websites. A lot of them have free shipping deals if you order a certain amount. Aside from that, if you sign up for an Ebates account, you can get cash back from your purchases. If you approve adding the Ebates button to your web browser, it will automatically pop up informing you what dollar amount or percentage of cash back you can get from the website you’re on. They have tons of participating stores including Amazon (3.5% cash back), Groupon (6%), Wal Mart (2%), Kohl’s (3%), Target, Etsy, Macy’s, and on and on and on! Get your first $10 when you sign up and shop by clicking here.
This one requires self-control, too. Our credit card is only used for purchases when we have the money in our bank account to pay it back immediately. We use it a lot because we get rewards cash for using it and for paying it off on time. A certain percentage (between 1%-3%) depending on the type of purchase and then an “On-Time Payment Bonus”. This is one of my favorites because it’s money we would be spending regardless – monthly bills on auto-pay, groceries, gas, etc. I use Capital One, but I’m sure other credit cards have similar benefits. You can redeem the money in a few ways – gift cards, a check mailed to you, direct deposit into your bank account or even use it to pay off your credit card balance.
Check these out while you’re doing your Christmas shopping this year! Let me know what amazing deals you find or if you have any other budgeting/money saving tips for me to try.